I have a friend (who shell remain unnamed, but you occasionally find him in the comment section...) with the habit to always come to late, at least 15 minutes. He is the truest academic that I know, and the 15 minutes are a part of his personality.
Here at PI, coming to late to a seminar or a meeting is significantly tougher, because your BlackBerry beeps relentlessly and reminds you of your slackness (that's the true reason why we get one). But still, it is possible to be late. The easiest way to achieve it is to make a detour via the kitchen to grab a coffee. (You must know that our executive director Howard Burton made 'the importance of coffee and good food' really clear to the architects, and so it became a priority for the building, as you can read here. )
If that coffee detour doesn't take enough time, it is advisable to take the elevator, which - as everybody will confirm - is the slowest elevator in the whole world. But this too is of course not a bug but a feature, and belongs to the design of the building: the intention is to support communication among researchers in 'an abundance of natural light' and so on and so forth.
Indeed, even with the BlackBerry we are pretty successful with the delay tactics I'd say. In fact, hardly any seminar or colloquium starts in time. But actually, I can't recall any institute or department for theoretical physics where this was the case...
... except back in Germany, where we'd just always start late in time. It is called the 'academic quarter' (das Akademische Viertel) and it's announced with a c.t. after the seminar time - an abbreviation for 'cum tempore', the Latin expression for 'with time'. That is, 3 c.t. means actually 3:15. The exceptions are meetings announced with s.t., meaning 'sine tempore' , Latin for 'without time'. I found this nice photo on Wikipedia which shows a plate at Lund University (Sweden) announcing the entry into the realm of academia
|For me, one of the most obvious differences between Europe and North America is how much faster time seems to run over here. Most of the time, I am not in time, but without time, even if not outside time.|
And now I've successfully killed time. Weekend is close, and on Friday we have our wine and cheese... (the importance of good food, you know).
A nice weekend to all of you, hopefull one 'with time' :-)
Aside: My lesson of the day is that Google has something called SafeSearch that you should turn off before you expect to find any hits for a term containing 'cum'. But if you do so, you'll find a truly astonishing amount of Latin texts.